School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


David T. Vacchi


insubordination, leadership, company command, social power, organizational leadership, military


Educational Leadership | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenology is to explore the experiences of U.S. Army company commanders regarding insubordinate acts aimed at undermining their legitimate command authority. The theory guiding this dissertation is French and Raven’s (1959) theory of social power, which states that power is divided into five unique forms that leaders use in exercising their will to accomplish tasks. This study particularly considers the legitimate power base, a form of social power often asserted by virtue of holding an office or formal organizational position. The setting is an Army post in western United States; the study sample comprises three groups of Army leaders: company commanders, squad leaders, and senior noncommissioned officers (NCOs). Data collection methods include interviews and letter writing. Besides uniquely investigating Army company-level commands, I discovered many Army leaders display a penchant for identifying and mitigating potential insubordination rather than allowing it to fester in the ranks. Stated as themes, soldiers want commanders who offer clear vision-casting efforts directed at mission accomplishment; authentic first-line supervisors strive to bridge the gap between the commander and the soldiers; and senior NCOs care enough to develop their subordinates, promoting a command climate that, in turn, improves military culture long term. Future research opportunities exist in exploring insubordination in other military services and components. Additionally recommended research opportunities include case studies and narrative research about leadership traits, development, and styles exhibited in contemporary military leaders.